Friday, December 20, 2013
Morning Ram-blings: Getting physical
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- There's a common trend developing when coaches outside of the NFC West are asked about playing teams in it.
Be it the St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks or Arizona Cardinals, coaches around the league see one common denominator when they put on the tape and begin their preparations for the week.
As Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano did just that after his team was battered and beaten by the Niners last week, he saw in the Rams much of what he saw in San Francisco.
"My concern is more physically, can we maintain and can we hold up?" Schiano said. "St. Louis is a very physical team. Defensively, they're going to get after the quarterback. Offensively, running the football very well, very committed to it. So, it's going to be another physical game very much like the San Francisco game."
Competing against physical opponents is made more difficult by the rash of injuries and illnesses the Buccaneers have dealt with in 2013. Schiano said his team has 15 players on injured reserve, an outbreak of ailments that has left the Bucs scrambling for depth.
Tampa Bay is 0-3 this year against the other members of the NFC West, though it played the Cardinals and Seahawks surprisingly well before last week's 33-14 blowout loss to the Niners. In those three contests, the Cardinals, Seahawks and Niners outscored the Bucs 73-48 as they struggled to piece together a consistent offensive performance. The Bucs averaged just 262 yards in those games.
Other numbers working in the Rams' favor include Tampa's allowing an average of 147 rushing yards on 4.64 yards per carry to the Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers. On the other side of the ball, the Bucs have allowed nine sacks in those three games.
All of those numbers would seem to bode well for the Rams as the physical approach of their divisional brethren would indicate a blueprint for handling the Bucs. But as is always the case in the NFL and especially with the week to week inconsistency of the Rams, anything could happen when the teams finally kick it off.
A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we opened with a discussion of the vastly improved NFC West division. ... In this week's edition of Double Coverage, Bucs reporter Pat Yasinskas and I discussed Sunday's matchup. ... From there, we looked at the Rams' "other" pick in Todd McShay's mock draft. ... After that, we delved into the old school running style of running back Zac Stacy and how he's put himself in position to get to 1,000 rushing yards in his rookie season. ... We closed the day with our usual injury report and an update on receiver Tavon Austin.
The NFL Live Crew registered its picks for Sunday's game.
NFL Insider Mike Sando offers his weekly insight in this matchup.
The fantasy crew examines Stacy's impact.
At stltoday.com, columnist Bernie Miklasz adds to the growing list of those offering support to defensive end Robert Quinn as the defensive player of the year.
Miklasz also offered a good look at why the Rams should and will stick with Sam Bradford at quarterback in 2014.
Jim Thomas with his take on Stacy's chances at 1,000 yards.
Joe Lyons checks in with Austin replacement Justin Veltung and offensive lineman Barrett Jones.
Turf Show Times and SBNation provided some good thoughts on how to fix pass interference issues around the league.